A guide to preparing for a stressful semester

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The start of a new year can mean many things. It’s a fresh start, both in life and in school. The new year has officially been welcomed and so has the stress of the final semester of the year.

Euan Fraser Tait is an intern with Fanshawe’s counselling services. He has shared some of his tips for students.

“I think one of the big barriers towards really flourishing in a semester is burnout,” said Fraser Tait. “College is a very fast paced environment and a good chunk of us will just drive ourselves until we drop. One of the really key things I think is useful is to clarify the nature of self-care.”

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In recent years, the idea of selfcare has taken the world by storm. It can be seen all over social media, with many users showing themselves using face masks, doing extensive skin care routines, and generally pampering themselves. But Fraser Tait said it doesn’t have to be that intense.

“I’ve heard stories about people feeling guilty about taking time for themselves because it doesn’t look like what they imagined self-care to be. It doesn’t have to be rock climbing or doing a really fancy face mask, it can just be deciding with intention to take moments alone. Whether you want to read a book, watch Netflix, or go for a walk, the key part that separates it from procrastination is merely the intent that you do it with.”

With such a busy schedule, school can leave many feeling very overwhelmed. But when they do take breaks, a feeling of guilt will take over because of that little voice saying they shouldn’t.

“It’s very common for a lot of people to have a self-critical side of ourselves,” said Fraser Tait. “This self-critical voice, in the way I understand it through my therapeutic lens, is a part of ourselves. It really does want us to succeed and keep going. But it can get a little too insistent.”

To help with that guilt, Fraser Tait suggested you have a conversation with that voice. What is that voice saying and why? Then answer the question, “how does it feel to be on the receiving end of it?” A simple reflection and conversation like that can help you understand yourself and your mind better and it can take away some of that pressure.

On top of the guilt that many people have, another issue can be timing. With so much work and due dates, how can you have time to take time for yourself?

“One of the good ways to head off burnout is by getting acquainted with some sort of calendar system,” said Fraser Tait. “I recommend taking advantage of the free software available through Fanshawe. I really encourage you to take some time scheduling your life. And if you have to, schedule in times where you don’t have to do anything.”

By scheduling out your days, you are putting good intent behind it. You are actively trying to ease that stress behind your workload. Give it a try and get ahead to avoid burnout this semester.